Smart Growth Leaders Still Living Low Density American Dream

<p>While encouraging the city's residents to embrace higher densities and public transit, many of Los Angeles's smart growth advocates live in single family homes and commute long distances in cars.</p>
June 10, 2007, 7am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"If any one principle provides the underpinning for smart growth, it's density - putting multistory homes around rail stations, on bus corridors and at the heart of urbanized areas.

So why are so many smart-growth advocates avoiding density in their own lives?"

"Henry Cisneros, a board member with Smart Growth America, and onetime head of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development came to Los Angeles a decade ago to work for the Spanish-language channel Univision - and immediately found a home in the plush, gated community of Bel Air Crest."

"Developer Nick Patsaouras, a onetime board member with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who heads the firm Polis which designs apartment buildings around rail stations, lives in a single-family neighborhood in Tarzana and would need to walk one and four-fifths miles from his hillside home to find the nearest bus."

"Then there's Los Angeles Planning Commissioner Mike Woo, founder of the Smart Growth China Institute, which urges the largest nation in the world to embrace "sustainable transportation and urban planning alternatives instead of duplicating the mistakes of the developed world." Woo lives on a hillside in Silver Lake where every home is zoned R-1 - a planning designation meant to keep apartments and condos far away. "This is one of the best neighborhoods in L.A. - other than [its lack of] bus access," he says."

"Of course, there's nothing inherently bad about living in a single-family neighborhood...but how can you sell people on a product that you won't buy yourself? Even worse, how can you convincingly sell a product that you think only the poor, people with no other options, should buy?"

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Published on Thursday, June 7, 2007 in LA Weekly
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